For a year now I have been occasionally chatting with Iwona Pinkowicz through Twitter and aware of her growing interest for street photography. Iwona, a bidding London based street photographer, had a little while back sent a submission to join the Street Photography London collective. Although at the time I didn't feel her work was quite there yet, I could see there was definitely something encouraging there.
In line with what we've been doing until now, which is interviewing street photographers from the most famous veterans to the most promising beginners, I thought it'd interview Iwona and find out what this year has changed her photography.
Here at SPL we like to hear from all passionate street photographers and share their experiences with others who may either relate to it or just be looking as well for encouragement and inspiration.
Q: Iwona tell us a little about you:
Firstly, I would like to thank you for this great opportunity Nico, it means a lot!
My name is Iwona Pinkowicz and I’m originally from a small town in South East Poland but have been living in London for the last 13 years. Moving to London was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, I love this place! I work at a digital marketing agency and, other than photography, my biggest passions are travelling and music.
My burning passion for street photography started just over a year ago and I’m not afraid to say that it has changed my life. It has been a great journey so far, I’ve learnt a lot and met some incredible people along the way.
Q: You've been shooting street photography for a year now and I've enjoyed seeing the progress you've made. How has your work evolved?
Yes, I can’t believe it’s been a year already! It feels as if it was yesterday when I decided to go out on my first photo walk in Shoreditch. I will never forget that night, I came back home buzzing and knew then that this is what I wanted to do!
At first I didn’t know what to shoot, so I was shooting everything! I’m still working on my own style, although I don’t think I’m there yet, but I know I’m getting closer. What I can say is that I’m more drawn to shoot in colour, as that’s how I see the world. I don’t like clutter (this is probably because I have massive OCD!), so I try to eliminate that from my photos. This pushes me to get closer to the subjects to get rid of the surrounding noise.
Q: Were you shooting anything else prior to that?
Not really, well, other than some holiday shots I took on my phone over the years. When I purchased my first DSLR camera in May last year I didn’t even know what aperture was! So, while on holiday in America that month, I read “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson to learn how to use my camera properly.
Back then I didn’t know yet that I wanted to shoot street photography, in fact I didn’t even know it existed. I did know however that I’m drawn to photographing people more than anything, which I guess is what directed me to discover street photography.
Q: What has been the best piece of advice you've been given so far?
Do whatever you want! After I read this article by Marius Vieth (who we interviewed HERE in early 2015) I finally felt more confident in exploring my own creativity. From then I stopped worrying about what others will think and started doing things that made me happy and felt right for me.
Q: You use filters. Is this something you feel is necessary? What's your view on them?
No, I don’t think filters are necessary at all. It’s just something I like to apply in some of my post processing. When it comes to editing my work I play around and see what suits a particular photo or series best. Black and white conversion works better for some and for others I like to experiment and try different things.
At first I was converting all of my photos to black and white. I both liked and disliked that approach but tended to keep all the photos in black and white because I often read that “real” street photography has to be that way and only certain photographers, like Joel Meyerowitz or Alex Webb, can deliver great work shooting in colour. After a while though I became more confident and decided to do what I felt was right for me. I know some people will like that approach and others won’t, but that’s just the way it is and it doesn’t bother me.
Q: How do you get information on street photography? Do you read books, have preferred websites, magazines, photographers?
For the past year I’ve been reading everything I could possibly find online, for example free PDF books, blogs, photography websites, interviews, and so on. I have read a few books including Street Photography Now and The Street Photographer’s Manual, which are both great for beginners. I also bought photo books showcasing work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vivian Maier, Dougie Wallace and many more. My favourite websites are World Photography Organisation, Eric Kim’s blog, 121clicks, iN-PUBLiC and of course Street Photography London! I have also learnt a lot from reading Marius Vieth’s blog – he’s been a great inspiration for me and I love his energy and passion for street photography!
Q: What's next for you in the coming year? Any plans?
Well, other than working on my biggest project yet (organising my wedding next year!), there is still a hell of a lot I need to learn about photography, so I want to continue doing that. I’ve got a couple of courses booked including a professional practice course at Magnum Photos. I’ve also booked a weekend away in Paris next month purely to concentrate on shooting street photography. Later this year I’m flying out to Singapore, Bali and Lombok, which I’m sure will be another great opportunity for shooting. I’m also working on a couple of long term projects, which will keep me busy for the next few years, with the ultimate goal being to one day publish my own book and have my own exhibition!